Fixing to Change: A Best Practices Assessment of One-Stop Job Centers Working With Welfare Recipients. Policy Changes and Limitations of the Data

03/01/1999

The data presented in this chapter were gathered during one of the most tumultuous years for welfare policies in recent history. Many states implemented their own welfare reforms in the wake of the federal welfare policy changes. As a result, the empirical measures presented typically reflect characteristics, services and outcomes over the course of multiple policy regimes, or during times when a new policy regime was anticipated and preparations were being made for transition. Typically, the new policies meant increased work and work search requirements, which may have the effect of motivating higher levels of service use and completion, and result in higher levels of accepting initial employment. This study does not attempt to differentiate any of the measures reported according to changes in policy, recognizing that to do so would introduce too many variables and uncertainties into the sampling frame and would imply a level of analytic rigor that would be unsupported by the methodology. Rather, the basis for this approach is the assumption that for the current time, state and local welfare programs are in a state of flux, and any assessment of One-Stop employment services models should simply take this changing policy environment into account.

As a result, the conclusions that can be reached based on the data presented here may be limited. Note that the time frames, measures, and definitions vary from site to site, making each data set unique and not strictly comparable to data from other sites. Nonetheless, these data do help us understand which subgroups of welfare recipients seem to be getting better access to services or are having trouble with the One-Stop systems.